play the violin

Expert Tips: How to Play the Violin with Accompaniment

play the violin

Playing the violin with accompaniment can be difficult, as it requires different skills. Below, violin teacher Julie P. shares some expert tips on how to play the violin with accompaniment…

If you want to play the violin with an accompaniment, you might find that there are a few new skills you need to develop.

When you play the violin by yourself there’s no one you need to coordinate with for tempo, dynamics, and rhythm. But as soon as you add someone else to the mix, things can start to get complicated.

Not only do you have to listen to what you’re playing, but you also have to be cognizant of what your partner is playing. Sometimes it’s tricky to line up both parts and make it sound like one cohesive song.

Below are eight songs that demonstrate the different styles and skills used in playing the violin with accompaniment.

1. Setting the Tempo

I’m Yours — Jason Mraz

The first thing you need to determine with your partner is tempo. Oftentimes, the accompanist will begin the song alone with a short intro.

However, if you’re planning to start the song together, you must communicate your tempo beforehand.

The musicians playing this fun Jason Mraz cover demonstrate one straight-forward way of counting off a tune.

Some people count off quietly, while others are so used to playing with each other that a simple breath before the downbeat is enough.

2. Playing to Strummed Chords

Shake It Off — Taylor Swift

One of the most difficult things to learn how to do is play along with the rhythm of strummed chords. Guitarists have different strumming patterns that create different rhythms.

Each song gets its own strumming pattern, which helps create the atmosphere for the music. It can be difficult to know where your violin fits within the strumming rhythm.

To practice this, have your accompanist play his or her part along with a recording of the actual song. This way, you can hear how it fits with your melody line.

You can also ask your accompanist to make a recording of his or her part so that you can practice with it and get used to hearing the two parts meshed together.

3. Using Guitar as a Percussion Instrument

Royals — Lorde

Guitarists can create rhythmic accompaniment by using their instrument as a drum.

In this cover of Lorde’s song Royals, the guitarist uses the heel of his hand to hit his guitar as part of his strumming pattern, which creates a different texture from the times when he’s just strumming.

As a violinist, make sure you lock into the rhythm of this percussive strumming pattern. If you’re having trouble with this kind of pattern, ask your accompanist to make a recording of it for you so you can listen to it and get it in your head.

4. Strumming Without a Chord

Happy — Pharrell Williams

Guitarists can also create rhythmic interest by strumming without fingering any specific chord.

They simply rest the fingers of their left hand on the strings without pushing the strings down. This keeps the strings from vibrating, giving them a metallic sound when strummed.

The guitarist in this video uses a few different patterns with this kind of playing. As a violinist you may feel that there is less harmonic support for your playing when a guitarist isn’t playing a chord, so make sure you’re confident on your part.

5. Broken Chords

Dust In the Wind — Kansas

Sometimes your accompanist will not play strummed chords, but will break up the chords into individual notes plucked one at a time.

There is less rhythmic intensity with this kind of playing, which is perfect for the above cover of Dust in the Wind.

6. Trading the Melody

Stay With Me — Sam Smith

When playing with an accompanist, it’s often effective to step out for a while and let the accompanist take the melody.

For example, pianists can easily play melody in one hand and accompaniment with the other.

A talented guitarist can also do this effectively. The above video shows the pianist taking a turn at the melody in the middle of the song.

7. Creating an Interesting Arrangement

Game of Thrones Theme Song

If you’re covering a recording made by a large group, you won’t be able to recreate all of the musical colors and textures with just two instruments.

However, there are a number of things you can do to make your arrangement interesting and true to the spirit of the original.

The two sisters in the video above do a great job of this. The violinist plays the initial melody first in her low octave, and then on the repeat she plays it up an octave.

In the middle section, the guitarist changes to a broken chord accompaniment pattern to lessen the rhythmic drive, which also brings down the dynamic level. Later on in the song, the violinist uses double stops to create more interest and a thicker texture.

8. End Together

Yellow — Coldplay

There’s nothing worse than hearing a great duo give a fantastic performance and then watching them fall apart at the end because they never decided on an ending!

How you end the song is just as important as how you begin. Oftentimes, a simple ritard at the end of the song is all you need, as shown in the video above.

If you want to get creative, write your own ending or have your accompanist finish with a vamp of the strumming pattern.

Now that you’ve seen what’s possible, go find an accompanist and try one of the above songs. If there’s some other songs that you’ve had on repeat for a while, try your hand at making your own arrangement.

Photo by Ctd 2005

JuliePPost Author: Julie P.
Julie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!

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5 Violin Exercises to Help Build Finger Strength

violin exercises

Just like athletes, musicians must build certain muscles to help them better perform. Below, violin teacher Julie P. shares some fun violin exercises that help build finger strength…

Finger strength is very important for violinists. The fingers in the left hand control the pitches on the violin, while the fingers on the right hand control the bow.

For this article, we’ll focus on violin exercises that will help build your left hand finger strength so that you can play in tune as well as any tempo.

Students who haven’t developed finger strength in their left hand often struggle with pushing the string down all the way to the finger board.

When a string isn’t pushed fully down, the tone quality of the note suffers and it can sound scratchy.

This especially becomes a problem when students start using the fourth finger (pinky) as it is one of the weakest fingers.

Finger strength is also important for playing fast. So much is demanded of the left hand for fast passages of music that sometimes violinists will find that their left hand hurts after playing.

It’s important, therefore, to build up the proper finger strength so that you don’t fatigue your left hand to the point of injury.

Below are five violin exercises you can practice outside of your violin lessons to help build finger strength.

1. Four Little Monkeys

For young violin players, the nursery rhyme “4 Little Monkeys” is a great way to develop coordination and initial finger strength.

First, the student holds the violin in proper playing position and taps one of his or her fingers on a string to the beat of the chant.

The number of monkeys determines which finger gets tapped. As the song counts down from four to one, each finger on the left hand gets a turn.

If you’re not sure how the song goes, here’s a reminder:

Four little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell down and bumped his head
Mamma called the doctor and the doctor said,
No more monkeys jumping on the bed!”

“Three little monkeys jumping on the bed…”

2. Left Hand Pizzicato

A great way to strengthen the third and fourth fingers on the left hand is to play pizzicato with the left hand.

This is usually done with just the third and fourth fingers, and requires a lot of control in those fingers to pluck only one string.

Make up plucking patterns on open strings, or play simple songs and insert left hand pizzicato notes whenever open strings come up in the music.

3. Harmonics

Harmonics are high notes that are created by dividing a string in a certain spot. The way you do this is by lightly resting a finger (usually the fourth finger) in a specific spot on the string without pushing it down.

Practicing harmonics will help you develop finger strength because it requires you to move out of first position, as well as use your fourth finger.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to play harmonics:

4. Finger Tapping on a Table

Here’s a violin exercise you can do without even using your violin! Try tapping different finger patterns on a table or hard surface, as if you were playing the piano.

Challenge yourself by writing out patterns to tap slow, and then fast. Or, try “playing” some of your music this way.

Try these patterns to start (index finger is 1 and pinky finger is 4):
1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4
1 3 2 4 3 1 4 2
1 4 2 3 4 1 3 2

5. Trills

Trills are a great violin exercise to develop finger strength. To play a trill, you’ll play one note and then quickly alternate it with the note above.

The fast movement of the trilling note will challenge your finger strength. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to play trills:

The violin exercises above will help you build your left hand finger strength so that you can play the violin even better.

If you’re looking for more help with building your left hand finger strength, try asking your violin teacher for some more violin exercises and specific advice.

Photo by Changjin Lee

JuliePPost Author: Julie P.
Julie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!

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5 Exercises to Help Reduce Tension While Playing the Violin

playing the violin

Reducing tension while playing the violin is extremely important. After all, relaxing your muscles is one of the keys to producing a smooth sound. Below, violin teacher Carol Beth L. shares five exercises for helping reduce tension while playing the violin. 

Are you having a difficult time perfecting your violin playing? Very often, violin students have trouble producing a good sound when they aren’t properly relaxed.

High-level players learn, among other things, to eliminate tension in the areas required to produce a beautiful sound, such as their bow-arm and bow-hand.

Some, however, may still put themselves at risk for stress-related injuries if they aren’t careful. For violin students, staying relaxed will help them play more beautifully and for a longer period of time.

Below are a few exercises you can do if you feel yourself becoming tense while playing the violin:

1. Shake your muscles out

If you’re feeling tense, put down your violin and shake away the tension. While this exercise seems pretty simple, it gives your muscles a fresh and relaxed start.

Oftentimes, you don’t even realize that you’re tensing up while playing the violin. Making a conscious effort to stop and shake out your muscles will often do the trick.

However, if you’re still feeling strained, try massaging muscles that don’t want to relax.

2. Take it slowly

It’s easy to give into the temptation to rush. Rushing, however, adds unnecessary stress and takes away precious time needed for the fingers, hand, and arm to understand and respond to messages from the brain.

It’s usually only when you are fairly confident that you should speed up. Don’t take this to the extreme either, though. Some types of perfectionists advance more slowly because they don’t realize how much they can do.

3. Position yourself correctly

When a student holds the violin or the bow incorrectly or they have incorrect posture, muscles tend to tighten. Sometimes, this occurs without the student even realizing it.

If you’re having trouble positioning correctly, stop playing the violin and start over, making sure that your bow-arm is in the right position and your standing tall. Standing while practicing rather than sitting can also encourage correct posture.

4. Let gravity do its job

Some beginner violin players will push the bow down on the strings to make a sound. However, it’s more useful to guide the bow onto the strings, allowing gravity to actually do the work.

If that’s difficult to imagine, try thinking about air-bowing in a “u” shape–almost as if the bow is on a swing moving down onto the imaginary string and then back up again.

In doing this exercise, you’re letting yourself follow the arc naturally dictated by the pull of gravity combined with the forward and backward motion of the swing. Once you can do this with your bow in the air, put your violin back up and let the bow catch the string as it moves.

5. Try the ‘baroque’ bowhold

During the baroque era, the bow looked a lot more like a bow with which you might shoot an arrow. It was difficult to hold it close to the frog, so people held it a quarter to a third of the way up. Of course, modern bows are no longer shaped this way, but we can still learn from the basic idea.

First, find the balance point of your bow–that is, the point at which you can hold the bow by the stick with just a finger and thumb and allow the bow to hang horizontally. Visually, it will look like an imbalanced set of scales; both sides will weigh the same, but the side with the frog is heavier and therefore shorter.

Now hold the bow as closely as possible to your regular bowhold and try playing the violin. Chances are it will feel unnaturally light. Once you have played a little bit and moved back to the frog, you may notice that your sound is more open. If you do, it’s probably because your bowhold has become lighter and more relaxed.

If you’re currently taking violin lessons, try out these exercises and see if they help your playing. Some of these exercises I have done on my own for many years; others, I observed through teachers in recent years and then tried out myself.

All of them, however, can help violin students to improve their playing and, very often, can either directly or indirectly help to reduce tension.

Photo by Scott Schram

CarolPost Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth L. teaches viola and violin in San Francisco, CA. She currently plays viola in the San Francisco Civic Orchestra and has been teaching students since 2012. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

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How Well Do You Know These Famous Violin Players? [Quiz]

From Bach to Heifetz, there are dozens of famous violin players who’ve made major impacts on the violin community. If you call yourself a violin aficionado, then test your knowledge of these famous violin players in the quiz below.

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How did you do? If you’re not happy with your results, there’s no need to worry. Simply, ask your violin teacher to help you study some violin trivia or brush up on these famous violin players on your own.

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best violin songs

How to Choose the Best Violin Songs for Your Recital

best violin songs

Do you have a big recital coming up? Below, violin teacher Julie P. shares some tips on how to choose the best violin songs and nail your next performance…

If you’re a beginner violinist preparing for your first big recital, you’re probably wondering how to pick the best violin songs that will showcase what you’ve learned throughout your violin lessons.

Chances are you’re also nervous about how you’ll play in front of people. While it’s good to have some butterflies in your stomach, there’s no need to be overly anxious, as your violin lessons have prepared you for this exact moment.

To ensure that you choose the best violin songs for your performance, follow the tips and tricks below. There’s also a short list of suggested violin songs for beginners.

Tips for Choosing the Best Violin Songs

Not too easy, but not too hard

You want to choose a recital piece that is difficult enough to keep you engaged in the learning process, but not so challenging that you can’t play it well.

Pick a piece that looks about as difficult as other music you’ve played well in the past. When in doubt, err on the side of picking an easy violin song.

For your first recital experience, you want to be as comfortable and confident as possible.

Appropriate for the setting

Is your recital a formal event or more causal? Will the other performers be playing strictly classical music, or will there be a mix of musical styles like pop and rock? Are you expected to perform with piano accompaniment?

These are all questions that you should be asking yourself to determine the overall performance setting.

A song from Pirates of the Caribbean performed with CD accompaniment, for example, may be appropriate for one recital, while a more classic song will be best suited for another performance.

Enjoyable for you

Choose a song you enjoy playing. There is nothing worse than spending hours and hours learning to play a song you don’t even like.

The more you enjoy playing and listening to your recital piece, the more you will end up practicing it.

Plus, your enjoyment will radiate on stage and will put you more at ease while performing.

Your comfort level

Some students feel perfectly comfortable performing alone in front of an audience, while others are terrified of being on stage alone.

If you’re one of those people who prefer to play with someone else, here are some options you might want to consider:

  • Perform a duet with another student or your violin teacher
  • Play with accompaniment of some sort (piano, guitar, CD, etc.)

Best Violin Songs for Beginners

If you’re still not sure what recital piece you should choose, below are five of the best violin songs for beginners:

1. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

While it’s not the most exciting song, almost any student who has been playing for a few months can pluck or bow this classic. Because students are already familiar with the tune, it will be easy for them to pick up.

2. Minuet No. 1

This song is part of the Suzuki violin repertoire. It’s a great song for showing off your bowing technique and the repeats make it sound longer and harder than it really is.

3. Ode To Joy

With its recognizable melody and limited note range, Ode To Joy is a great first recital choice. Even if you don’t read music, this song can be easily written out by letter names. What’s more, piano accompaniment is easy to add, as is a friend to play along.

4. Can Can

This upbeat tune is fun to play and listen to. Played in the key of D, this song only uses the D and A strings and is perfect for students early in their training.

5. Old Joe Clark

This American folk tune is a great intro to the world of fiddling. For a fun twist, play this song through twice during your recital; the first time at a medium tempo, and the second time at a faster tempo.

Use the following tips and list of songs to help you nail your next violin performance. Most of all, remember to have fun and enjoy your time up on stage–you deserve it after all of your hard work!

Looking for more songs to play? Check out this list of 50 easy violin songs!                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

JuliePPost Author: Julie P.
Julie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!

Photo by Alden Chadwick

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10 More Helpful Apps for Violinists

apps for violinists

There are mobile apps for just about everything these days–even playing the violin. Below, violin teacher Julie P. shares 10 helpful apps for violinists…

The world of music apps is ever expanding. More and more apps are available to help musicians with everything from music theory to sight reading to organizing practice time.

Specifically, there are many helpful apps for violinists. Whether you’re a seasoned violin players or you’re just starting to take violin lessons, there are tons of apps that can help take your skills to the next level.

Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up some of the best apps for violinists below.

1. Violin Notes Flash Cards

Price: $0.99

The Violin Notes Flash Cards app features flash cards to help users memorize notes and beef up their reading skills.

One side of the card displays the note on the music staff, while the other side depicts what note it is and where to play it on the fingerboard.

2. Fiddle Companion

Price: Free

The perfect app for both fiddlers and violin players, the Fiddle Companion provides users with a wealth of chord charts and scale fingering.

What’s more, it comes with a variety of helpful tools, such as a metronome and a tuner.

3. iReal Pro

Price: $12.99

Don’t have a band to practice with? No problem. The iReal Pro app is like having a band with you at all times.

Download chord charts for thousands of songs or create your own chord chart for a song. Then use the playback feature to pick the style you want your “virtual” band to play and you’ll be off!

4. Voice Recorder

Price: Free

Don’t be fooled by the word “voice” in this app’s title. The Voice Recorder app is great for recording your practice sessions, violin lessons, or even performances.

Use the sophisticated folder system to keep your recordings organized, and access them anytime you want.

5. Baxters Database of Violin Makers

Price: $16.99

If you need to reference a particular violin or it’s maker, then look no further than the Baxters Database of Violin Makers app.

The app is a huge database that includes more than 21,500 violin makers with basic information about each, text from over 2,700 violin labels, and more than 865 pictures of violins.

6. Sight Reader

Price: Free

Are you having trouble learning how to read music? The Sight Reader app, which includes a specialized study course for the violin, boasts several exercises to help you learn how to read music.

Violin students can strengthen your music reading through lessons, flashcards, songs, intervals, rhythms, scales and more.

7. Rhythm Sight Reading Trainer

Price: $2.99

Practice and/or test your rhythm accuracy with real time feedback using the Rhythm Sight Reading Trainer app.

The app has basic to advanced rhythms, a tempo slider, and a learning mode in which you can practice new rhythms by playing right along.

8. Music Journal

Price: Free

Whether you’re practicing with your violin teacher or on your own, the Musical Journal app is a wonderful tool to track your practice sessions and measure your results.

This app has a great folder system for organizing the songs and exercises you practice, and also keeps track of metronome tempos and other notes about your practice sessions.

9. Tempo

Price: $2.99

Tempo, featured in the App Store as a “Staff Favorite,” is a powerful app that has just about every option you could want from a metronome app

Users can create and share set lists with specific tempos for each song, and choose from over 14 sound sets.

10. PlayAlong Violin

Price: Free

The perfect app for violinists, PlayAlong Violin listens to users play and knows whether or not they’re playing the right notes. The music only advances if users play the correct notes and rhythms.

What’s more, learning features, such as fingering charts and note names, help beginners learn new songs.

These are just some of the apps for violinists available. There are a ton more apps that you can leverage to help you practice, learn, and master new violin skills.

JuliePPost Author: Julie P.
Julie P. teaches violin, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!

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10 Wacky Ways to Improve Your Posture for Better Violin Playing

violin playing

Proper posture is essential for good violin playing. Standing or sitting up straight not only improves tone production and control, but it also prevents injury and discomfort.

Many violin players, however, struggle with their posture, which can lead to poor technique and cause both short and long term injuries. Not to mention you’ll end up looking like Quasimodo.

Poor posture can be a result of many things, such as sitting or standing without interruption for long periods of time, lack of muscle tone in the back and abdominal areas, or bad habits developed over time.

The good news is bad posture can easily be fixed by performing a few simple exercises a day. Below are 10 wacky, but effective, ways to improve your posture for better violin playing and overall health.

1. Swap your desk chair for an exercise ball

Sitting in an office chair or school desk for eight hours a day can wreak havoc on your posture. To prevent you from slouching, swap your desk chair for an exercise ball.

Sitting on an exercise ball strengthens your abdominal muscles, which leads to better alignment of the spine. While you might get strange looks from your colleagues, you’ll enjoy better posture, less stress, and improved violin playing.

2. Duct tape an X on your back

Using duct tape or another thick, non-stretch tape, have a friend tape a giant X on your back starting from one shoulder to the opposite hip. Make sure that you’re shoulders aren’t rounded when placing the tape.

It sounds uncomfortable, but doing this will help retrain your back. If you don’t want to walk around with duct tape on your back all day, start by taping your back during violin practice.

3. Practice yoga moves at home

Not only does yoga help relieve stress, but it can also counteract bad posture. There are many easy yoga poses—such as child’s pose and mountain pose—that will help you stretch and correct the body.

And the best part is you don’t have to attend expensive yoga classes to learn and perform these moves. You can practice yoga in the privacy of your home or practice space.

4. Post photo reminders in your practice space

Print out some pictures that show proper posture and pin them up around your practice space. These pictures will serve as mental reminders to straighten up when you’re practicing the violin.

5. Ditch your shoes

Most people stand with their weight bearing on their heels, which applies unnecessary pressure on your ankles, hips and lower back.

To strengthen your feet— which in turn helps align your body—try going barefoot while lounging around your house or practicing the violin.

6. Set a reminder to adjust your posture

Set a reminder on your phone or watch for every 20-30 minutes to correct your posture. While it may sound a little extreme, overtime you’ll start to see major improvements in your posture and overall violin playing.

7. Stop crossing your legs

Believe it or not, crossing your legs is bad for your posture. The proper way to sit in a chair is to place your feet completely flat on the ground.

Breaking the habit of crossing your legs can be difficult. However, once you practice how to properly sit in a chair, you’ll become more conscious of when you’re sitting incorrectly.

8. Place a pillow in your lap

When you’re lounging on the coach with your tablet or laptop do you ever get a burning sensation that radiates between your shoulder blades? This could signal that you’re hanging your head too low.

To fix this, sit with your back against the rear of your couch or chair. Then place a pillow in your lap to support your arms.

9. Form a posture police

Oftentimes, you don’t even realize that you’re hunching over for hours at a time. Ask your family, friends, and violin teacher to alert you when you’re slouching.

Not only will this help alert you when you don’t notice that you’re hunching over, but it will also help hold you accountable.

10. Go hands free with your smartphone

Your smartphone addiction could be contributing to your bad posture. Most people tilt their head to one side while talking on the phone or slouch forward while texting—all of which leads to bad posture.

To avoid straining your neck while talking on the phone, go hands free with a Bluetooth or earplugs. If you’re texting, bring the phone level with your eyes so you aren’t learning forward.

Whether you’re an advanced or beginner violin player, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to your posture. Use the exercises above to help improve your posture for better violin playing or ask your violin teacher for alternative ways.

Photo by Pawel Loj

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how to hold a violin bow

How to Hold a Violin Bow Properly

how to hold a violin bow

One of the most challenging parts of learning how to play the violin is learning how to hold a bow properly, as it can feel very unnatural for beginner and intermediate students.

While it can be frustrating, learning how to hold a violin bow is extremely important–especially for those who are just starting violin lessons. With proper bow technique, you can essentially produce whatever tones, strokes, and dynamics you want.

However, if you have trouble controlling the bow, you’ll end up making a squeaky or unsavory sound. The foundation of a great bow technique is your grip. The correct bow grip will give your right hand and arm flexibility, power, and control, all while eliminating tension.

How to Hold a Violin Bow: Step by Step Instructions for Beginners

So what’s the secret to gaining the proper bow grip? Here we’ll share a video tutorial, followed by a step-by-step guide on how to hold your violin bow the right way. Be sure to read through all the steps to avoid injury and ensure you’re using the proper technique.

Step One: Make a Bunny With Your Right Hand

To get an idea of how to hold a violin bow, practice making a bunny with your right hand.

  • Start by making the shape of the letter C, with your fingers and thumb curved.
  • Then, touch your thumb to your middle finger and ring finger to create the chin and nose of the bunny.
  • Next, raise your pointer finger and pinky (keep them curved) to create the bunny ears.

This is the basic shape of the bow grip. Practice making this hand formation until it becomes second nature.

how to hold a violin bow - bunny grip

Step Two: Place Your Thumb

When learning to properly place your right hand, hold the bow stick with your left hand. Be careful to not touch the bow hair with your fingers.

First, place your thumb on the underside of the bow stick, next to where the frog ends. Usually, there will be a small space between the frog and the leather or wire finger grip. That’s the spot where you want to place your thumb.

how to hold a violin bow - thumb placement

Step Three: Place Your Middle Finger

Next, the middle finger is placed opposite the thumb on the bow stick, with the ring finger placed right next to it.

Let your middle and ring finger relax so that they curve over the top of the bow and rest on the frog. The placement should feel similar to when you made the bunny.

how to hold a violin bow - middle finger placement

Step Four: Place Your Pinky Finger

Then, place the tip of your pinky on top of the bow stick, slightly away from the ring finger. It’s very important that the pinky is curved so that it points down onto the top of the bow stick.

Otherwise, if the pinky is held straight, you’ll lose a lot of control of the bow.

how to hold a violin bow - pinky finger

Step Five: Place Your Pointer Finger

Finally, place your pointer finger on the finger grip, contacting the bow close to the middle knuckle. Keep the pointer finger curved and pointing slightly back toward the other fingers on the bow.

If all your fingers are placed properly, you should be able to press down through the tip of your pinky and make the bow go up. This hand position may feel unnatural to you at first, but over time it will become automatic.

how to hold a violin bow - pointer finger

Pro Tip: Strengthen Your Bowing Hand with these Exercises

When you’re first learning how to hold a violin bow, your wrist and fingers might become sore or tired, as you’re not used to using these particular muscles.

Implement the following exercises into your existing practice routine to help strengthen your bow hand and improve your overall violin playing.


Repeating a certain motor task helps with muscle memory. Try making 10 bow grips in a row, going through all the steps at once. By the fifth or sixth repetition, chances are you will no longer need the pictures or explanation to guide you.


Holding the violin bow vertically in your right hand, start to crawl or inch your fingers up to the tip of the bow and back down without the help of your left hand. This exercise will help strengthen and improve flexibility in your fingers.

Looking for more ways to practice your bow hold? Here are 10 sure-fire ways to boost your bow hold!

Having a good bow grip is a necessary step toward becoming a better violinist. If you’re still struggling, try some free violin classes at TakeLessons Live, or work with a private violin teacher until you get it right.

violin performance

The Ultimate Violin Performance Checklist for Parents [Infographic]

violin performance

Does your child have a violin recital coming up? Below, violin teacher Julie P. shares the ultimate violin recital checklist to help parents ensure their child has the best performance…

Your child’s first violin performance is an exciting time! Your child gets to show off what he or she has learned, while you get to marvel at how far he or she has come since their first violin lesson.

Recitals can be a wonderful family event and a great confidence booster for your child. However, they can also be stressful, especially if you don’t know what to expect.

There are so many things in which to keep track. The best way to ensure that your child’s first violin performance is a positive experience is to make sure you and your child are prepared ahead of time.

There are three main areas in which your child needs to prepare: the violin playing, the performance elements, and the items to bring. Your child’s violin teacher will help him or her with the violin playing, but it’s important that your child also practice at home regularly to reinforce the skills he or she learn in lessons.

See Also: Help Your Child to be a Confident Performer

The performance elements include playing in front of people, knowing how to bow before and after a performance, entering and exiting the stage, handling sheet music, etc. These are all things you can practice at home with your child to make him or her more at ease the day of the recital.

The items your child needs to bring to his or her performance can also be discussed and prepared ahead of time to reduce any stress the day of.

Follow the steps in the infographic below, and your child will be on his or her way to a great first violin performance. In fact, your child may love it so much he or she won’t be able to wait for his or her next violin recital!

violin performance

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Don’t leave all the preparation up to your child’s violin teacher. Use the checklist above to ensure that your child is ready for his or her big debut!

JuliePPost Author: Julie P.
Julie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Photos by Eden, Janine and Jim and Nathan Russell

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Best Violin Songs to Practice by Genre: Rock, Pop, and Country

best violin songs

Love it or hate it, practice is a significant part of every musician’s life. This is especially true for those learning the violin, as there are many complex techniques and skills one must learn.

As every musician can attest, finding the time and motivation to practice can be difficult, especially when you’re used to practicing the same songs over and over again.

Rather than bore yourself to death, try switching up your practice plan by adding different genres of music–such as rock, pop, and country–into your routine.

Learning how to play different violin songs will help keep things interesting and enjoyable. What’s more, it will help you master various violin techniques and make you a well-rounded violinist.

If you’re bored practicing the same old songs, then switch up your routine with this list of the best violin songs to practice by genre.

Best Violin Songs for Pop Genre

“Rolling in the Deep” Adele

This popular song helped propel British artist Adele to stardom in 2010 and received three Grammy Awards. Its beat and rhythm makes it a great song to play on the violin.

“Let it Go” Idina Menzel

Featured in the Disney animated film Frozen, “Let it Go” is a catchy song that’s been played by many different instruments because it’s fairly easy to follow. Channel your inner Elsa with this power ballad.

“All of Me” John Legend

John Legend’s biggest hit to date, “All of Me” was the third best-selling song in 2014. While it’s considered a piano power ballad, it’s the perfect song to play on the violin because of its slow tempo.

Best Violin Songs for Rock Genre

“Brown Eyed Girl” Van Morrison

Released in 1967, “Brown Eyed Girl” quickly became a classic rock hit due to its catchy lyrics. Practice this song solo or accompanied by a piano.

“Maggie May” Rod Stewart

Another great classic rock song, “Maggie May” topped the charts in 1971. Believe it or not, the song featured a number of instruments, including the organ and mandolin.

“Free Bird” Lynyrd Skynyrd

This power ballad by American rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd is dubbed the most requested song in the history of rock music. Its slow tempo makes it easy to learn and practice.

Best Violin Songs for Country Genre

“Friends in Low Places” Garth Brooks

Performed by Garth Brooks, “Friends in Low Places” is a country music hit, having one both the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association Award for Single of the Year in 1990.

“Wide Open Places” Dixie Chicks

This Grammy award winning song, which features the fiddle and mandolin, is the perfect low-tempo song to practice on the violin.

“What Hurts the Most” Rascal Flatts

This contemporary love song off of Rascal Flatts’ album, titled Me and My Gang, earned the band two nominations for the 49th Annual Grammy Awards.

These violin songs vary in difficulty. If you’re in the beginning stages of learning to play the violin, ask your violin teacher to play along with you or ask him or her to choose a part of the song that’s easy to learn. If you’re a more advanced violin student, then try practicing these songs on your own.

Looking for more songs to play? Check out this list of 50 easy violin songs!

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